Suspended CEO takes fight to Mhlathuze Water

Gloves are off in the battle between Mhlathuze Water and its suspended CEO Mthokozisi Duze, who says the forensic investigation into allegations of wrongdoing has unduly dragged on without him having the opportunity to answer to the allegations.

Speaking for the first time to Sunday World since his suspension in December, Duze said despite being suspended on full pay by the government entity located on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, no charges have been officially put to him.

“When you’re suspended, the rule of natural justice should apply. As an implicated party you should know what allegations have been put to you warranting your suspension. To this day, the primary reason for my suspension is not known,” said Duze.

Duze and CFO Babongile Mnyandu were placed on special leave following allegations of misconduct contained in a letter by a whistle-blower. Their suspension was expected to be lifted on January 31 but it was extended and Duze maintains the board is on a wild goose chase.

“I suspect that they are trying every trick in the book to make sure that something sticks. The anticipation was that the investigation would take one month to complete and it has been extended twice” he said.

He also fears for his life after he was stripped of his bodyguards, who were assigned to him after a risk assessment.

“The only explanation I got is that the life of the board chairperson is in danger because of the investigation and she is the one who would be assigned protection.”

Mhlathuze Water, which supplies bulk water to districts in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, comes from a troubled past with claims it had been ‘captured’ by a strong political cabal, where lucrative tenders were awarded to the friends and families of politicians.

The state entity also featured prominently in the State Capture Commission chaired by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who fingered former board chairperson Dudu Myeni as a mastermind behind the shenanigans that played out.

Myeni was accused of using the entity as a conduit for money laundering after a whistle-blower known as “Mr X” testified that he had seen bags of money being transported  at the behest of Myeni.

Duze was brought in to save the entity, achieving consecutive unqualified audits and reporting that the entity had healthy financial reserves. But he too finds himself under scrutiny. Sbusiso Makhanya, the former CEO, also parted ways with the entity unceremoniously.

Sunday World has established that the fight for control of financial resources between board members and officials had created mistrust, especially during board meetings.

Board chairperson Thabi Shange said they were keeping the Department of Water and Sanitation abreast of their independent investigation.

On the allegations that no charges have been formally put, to the suspended executives, Shange said it was an internal matter not for public consumption.

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